New York Times Best Selling Author

Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps

“Sandra Dallas, an active writer of Colorado history, brings her expertise and sense of humor to good use as she describes 147 of Colorado’s more colorful communities that flourished at some time between early 1859 and 1899…. Atchison’s expertly executed photographs record the present appearance of most of the camps. Altogether, this mother-daughter joint effort is a well-turned-out, brief introduction to these communities.”
—Western Historical Quarterly

Prospectors lured to the West in hopes of striking it rich settled a thousand towns in the Colorado mountains. The cry of “Gold!” or “Silver!” or a few flecks of color in a tin cup sent them to remote, often inhospitable locations to search for the precious metals.

Close on the heels of the miners were the merchants, the gamblers, the prostitutes, the washerwomen, the capitalists, and the con men. Together they turned the mining camps into bustling towns where saloons never closed and the safest place for a man to walk after dark was down the middle of the street with a gun in each hand. Sandra and her photographer-daughter, Povy Kendal Atchison, include 147 ghost towns in Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps.

The book is lavishly illustrated with 290 photographs. In addition to those by Povy and early historical photographs, rare photos from the 1920s and 1930s are included. Some of Povy’s superb photographs evoke nostalgia with views of abandoned buildings deteriorating amid meadow wildflowers. Soon nothing will remain but the Colorado landscape, with the eternal mountains towering close by.


Author’s Note

I wrote nine nonfiction books on western subjects before I turned to fiction. Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps is my favorite, because it allowed me to prowl the Colorado mountains with my daughter, Povy Kendal Atchison, who took the pictures. We were foolhardy. Instead of a four-wheel drive vehicle, I drove a BMW 2002. Povy, then in high school, was too young to drive, and neither of us could change a tire, but something protected us, maybe ghosts. I know we encountered one ghost. We were in the cemetery in Breckenridge when Povy came across a home-made grave marker. It was a glass-fronted box whose contents, probably a photograph and maybe silk flowers, had crumbled to dust. The paint on the box had weathered away, and no name identified the person buried there. At the instant Povy clicked the shutter of her camera, the wooden cross on top of the box broke in half. After going to town and buying glue, we returned to the cemetery and repaired the cross, tying the pieces together with a ribbon, because we knew that a ghost out there did not want to be forgotten.

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